Termination of Parental Rights

 

Issues: Termination under §§ 19b(3)(b)(i), (j), & (k)(ii); Children's best interests; In re Olive/Metts Minors; In re Moss; Continued alcohol abuse; In re JS & SM; Supervised visitation; In re Hudson; In re VanDalen

Court: Michigan Court of Appeals (Unpublished)

Case Name: In re Flores

e-Journal Number: 57370

Judge(s): Per Curiam – Wilder, Saad, and K.F. Kelly

 

The court held that the trial court correctly ruled that terminating the respondent-mother's parental rights was in her children's best interests because she "was both directly and indirectly responsible for repeated sexual assaults against one of her children" and she continued to abuse alcohol in a manner that placed them at risk of harm. It also properly rejected her argument that she was entitled to supervised visitations. Thus, the court affirmed the trial court's order terminating respondent's parental rights. In considering the children's best interests, the trial court "explicitly recognized that the children's placement with relatives was a possible factor that weighed against termination." It also heard the testimony of one of the children (KM) "on the repeated sexual assaults that were perpetrated against her by respondent and several unidentified boyfriends, and found her testimony to be credible. The trial court reasoned that these sexual assaults supported termination of parental rights not only" as to KM, but also as to the remaining siblings "because of the ongoing threat of sexual assault. These sexual assaults were particularly troubling not only because they were perpetrated by respondent, but because they were perpetrated by several unidentified boyfriends over a period of years with respondent's knowledge and approval." Thus, while some of the siblings were significantly older or younger than KM, "respondent's willingness to allow others to sexually assault her child indicated that no child would be safe in her care, regardless of the child's age or gender." The trial court also considered respondent's alcohol abuse, which required her repeated hospitalization, and placed another child "in great danger when respondent attempted to flee from the police while driving intoxicated. Continued alcohol abuse is a fact that indicates that termination of parental rights is in the children's best interests." The court concluded that respondent's argument the trial court should have allowed supervised visitations lacked merit. This argument did not apply to KM, "who personally suffered serious emotional harm as a result of respondent's sexual assaults." Further, "it is not the duty of the trial court to remain in a supervisory role for an indefinite period of time, as it would not provide the children involved in the proceedings with stability and permanency." The court also noted that respondent did not show that she even sought visitation.

 

Full Text Opinion

Issues: Termination under §§ 19b(3)(c)(i), (g), & (j); In re Ellis; In re White; Child's best interests; Claim that the DHS violated the respondent-mother's due process rights; In re B & J

Court: Michigan Court of Appeals (Unpublished)

Case Name: In re Haile

e-Journal Number: 57369

Judge(s): Per Curiam – Wilder, Saad, and K.F. Kelly

 

Finding no errors warranting reversal, the court affirmed the trial court's order terminating the respondent-mother's parental rights to her child. It held that the trial court was within its right to find that the statutory bases were proven by clear and convincing evidence. The primary condition leading to adjudication (respondent's untreated mental illness) continued to exist. She did not have the ability to care for the child. "She continued to struggle with mental illness, could not verify income, and did not have stable housing." The court held that given her refusal to comply with court-ordered services, "there was no reasonable likelihood that her situation would be improved within a reasonable time considering the child's age." It also held that it was obvious her violent and erratic behavior placed the child at risk of harm. "Having found the foregoing subsections proven by clear and convincing evidence, the trial court was required to terminate parental rights if 'it finds from a preponderance of evidence on the whole record that termination is in the children's best interests.' We review for clear error the trial court's determination regarding the children's best interests." The child was young with a high likelihood of being adopted. She was thriving in the pre-adoptive home. Further, respondent provided no indication that she would be able to provide the child with the type of stability and consistency she needs. She had an extensive history of mental illness-related hospitalizations, and had done very little to resolve or alleviate the issue. She had left the state for a period of time during the proceedings, and had also been incarcerated. She had not visited with the child since 10/12. There was no evidence of any bond between them. The court also rejected respondent's claim that the DHS violated her due process rights.

 

Full Text Opinion

Issues: Termination under §§ 19b(3)(b)(i), (b)(ii), (g), (i), (j), (k)(iii), & (k)(v); In re Ellis; Children's best interests; Abuse of one child as "probative of a parent's proclivity to abuse other children"; In re Parshall; In re Youmans; In re Dittrick Infant; In re LaFlure

Court: Michigan Court of Appeals (Unpublished)

Case Name: In re Moore/Reed

e-Journal Number: 57367

Judge(s): Per Curiam – Jansen, Murray, and Boonstra

 

Holding that the trial court did not clearly err in finding statutory grounds for terminating both respondents-parents' parental rights or in finding that doing so was in the children's best interests, the court affirmed the trial court's orders in these consolidated appeals terminating their rights. Because one of the children (VM), four weeks old at the time, sustained severe injuries while in the respondent-mother's care, it was clear that the mother "was unable to provide proper care and custody of her children." She "made bad decisions about the children's care and was unable to recognize the severity of the situation. She admitted maintaining contact with respondent-father after his parental rights to two of their children were terminated because of child abuse." Also, the children were not properly cared for before their removal. "They were unclean, covered with bug bites, urinated everywhere, and did not receive appropriate medical attention." The mother was unable to discipline the children. Several of them "had special needs and were behind in school due to poor attendance" while in her care. Although there was no clear evidence that she caused VM's injuries, termination of parental rights under §§ 19b(3)(b)(i), (b)(ii), (j), and (k) "is permissible even in the absence of definitive evidence regarding the identity of the perpetrator when the proofs show that one of the parents has either caused or failed to prevent a child's injuries." The evidence clearly showed that "VM suffered life threatening, nonaccidental injuries," the mother was her primary caregiver, she had no explanation for the injuries, and she maintained a relationship with "a known child abuser" (the father). The court concluded that it was in the children's best interests to be cared for by someone who makes their safety a priority, unlike the mother. As to the father, the prior termination of his parental rights "after he physically abused and caused injury" to another child was sufficient to establish § 19b(3)(i). The court also held that the trial court did not clearly err in terminating his rights under §§ 19b(3)(b)(i), (b)(ii), (g), and (j). Neither respondent could explain "VM's bilateral retinal hemorrhages, left parietal skull fracture, or subdural hemorrhage on the base of her brain. The doctors who evaluated VM indicated that her injuries were not accidental." Contrary to the father's claim, "termination of his parental rights was proper even if it could not be definitively established that he inflicted the injuries."

 

Full Text Opinion
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